Knowledge sharing amongst traditional weavers of East Nusa Tenggara: a myth or potential

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Original Message

From: Endro Catur, posted on 2010/07/15

Dear colleagues,

I have just returned from a three months traveling to the remote archipelagic province of East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia, plus volunteering myself to work with some of the province's traditional fabric weaver communities.

The focus of interest of my volunteer was to help these communities to improve the way they manage their tradition of weaving - knowledge - and to identify how they can turn their knowledge into their asset (apart from their fabric sold commercially).

I found some interesting facts that, given the recently opened access to external world (some areas had cars coming into their place about twenty years ago) and their remoteness even to neighboring islands, the tradition of knowedge sharing is mostly verbal.

And for certain knowledge - exp. story of each motifs of their fabric, rituals following completion of a fabric, etc - can only be shared in certain times by certain people, still orally.

I see risks in this practice as youth started to embrace modernity and tend to not interested to continue the tradition. They prefer their mobile phone compared to listening these stories. They tend to work as employees rather than as weavers.

Out of several weaver communities, only few showed keenness to try new method of sharing their knowledge - weaving technique, motifs and their stories, etc - that I shared. For example, we recorded the elders when they told stories in a ritual. We kept some (of thousands) of traditional.motifs, take their pictures and started to identify the stories behind the motif. We kept the technique of making motif in a grid-paper so young children can learn without being patronized by their parents (as they used to).

And I havent even work with them on how to turn these knowledge into their asset. We already thought about initiating some village into weaving village aimed for tourism. But apparently it will take some time to reach this point.

I would be most grateful if you could share your experience on the following:

  1. How to replicate the success of knowledge management in one community to other communities (given some resistance expressed by these communities)
  2. How to turn their knowledge into communal asset and the management of it

Thank you,

Endro Catur


All replies in full are available in the discussion page. Contributions received with thanks from:

Patrick Lambe
Martine Koopman
Nancy White
Ana Maria Currea
Chris Burman
Allison Hewlitt
John David Smith
Geoff Parcell
Speranza Ndege
Endro Catur
Tariq Zaman

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